During my nearly two years as a reporter, I spent a significant portion of each day sifting through countless emails (I had 34,000 emails in my inbox when I left), the majority containing a press release.
The process started with “starring” the emails worthy of a second look, deleting the rest and then reviewing my starred emails a second time to find the diamonds in the rough. As for those of lesser importance, I saved those for the slow days every reporter inevitably faces.
It was a tedious but necessary process that every reporter goes through to provide readers with the most important news first and then fluffier pieces second.
As the writer and content strategist for Boileau Communications, I’ve had the opportunity to see the press release process from the other side.
For the client on the paying end of that release, that document serves as an opportunity to seize the attention of potential buyers that were otherwise unreachable. Ultimately, it could fuel their growth.
To create a successful press release, it takes a topic people care about.
It all starts with a story worth telling.
But just because you have a story worth telling, there is no guarantee it will get published.
So the question is, how do you guarantee a release gets published? Simply put, you can’t. But there are important factors that can increase your chances:
- Newsworthiness: As a business considering pitching to a new outlet, you need to first consider if it’s something people want to read. Is it important to a wide audience? Does it play off the unique factor? Is the product/service/story you pitch the first of its kind? All that matters. Examples of newsworthy items include:
- A new partnership between two companies
- An announcement of a major expansion project
- A transfer in ownership of a company
- The opening of a new business or branch
- Timing: As sad as it may sound, no matter how newsworthy a topic is, if it’s released at 9 p.m. on a Sunday, the chances of it getting picked up decrease considerably. Other timing issues to consider? Sending out a release on April Fools Day probably isn’t the best idea and neither is sending it out over spring break. The goal is to draw the attention of the reporter to ensure the release is seen by as many sets of eyes as possible.
- Is the idea sellable: When pitching a story to a newspaper, magazine, television station or wherever else you may pitch, it’s important to remember that a reporter is looking for topics their audience wants to hear about. A publisher or editor is ultimately trying to sell newspapers or get viewers and listeners, and the only way to do that is to have reporters with solid news judgment, picking topics viewers care about. Popularity of the topic or company is also crucial.
- Cleanliness of the copy: It may seem obvious but spelling and grammar errors often derail a release before it’s even considered for publication. If a company isn’t willing to focus on the little details, how can a journalist trust you moving forward.
There’s a lot that goes into a press release. Whether it’s the editing process, the review and approval process or anything in between, a press release is an investment.
Following the above guidelines will ensure more success, no matter the topic.